Detoxing doesn't make the list.
By Zahra Barnes, SELF
Contrary to popular belief, indulging in delicious food is a key part of living a healthy life. It's simply not sustainable to never let yourself have something crave-worthy that offers approximately zero nutritional benefit, but tastes so good it's like feeding your soul. The only issue is that overdoing it -- even if it's not necessarily on unhealthy food! -- can leave you feeling bloated and sluggish. There can also be a creeping sense of guilt, even though overeating sometimes is normal and will in no way ruin your healthy-lifestyle goals. Here, 16 registered dietitians explain the physical, mental, and nutritional moves you can make after you eat too much, based on what actually works for them.
1. Grab a friend for a workout.
"I eat a healthy diet 90 percent of the time so I can enjoy a dessert, an extra glass of wine, or an indulgent meal a couple of times a week. But after overdoing it, I meet a friend to exercise -- having a buddy ensures I'll get that workout in. Then my friend and I grab a post-workout dinner where I pack in the vegetables and a piece of fish or shrimp for some lean protein." -- Brigitte Zeitlin, M.P.H., R.D., C.D.N., founder of BZ Nutrition
2. Remember how great healthy food really is.
"We all overindulge from time to time. My number one rule is to hit the refresh button and start over -- no guilt, no dwelling. I spend a few days focusing on whole foods like fruits, veggies, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. This helps 'cleanse' the palate and squash cravings for sweet and greasy foods." --Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Nutrition Starring You
3. Commit to a quick rebound.
"The biggest predictor for long-term health success for me and my clients has been the idea of a quick rebound. Does your one overindulgent Friday night spiral into the weekend and then you get 'back on the wagon' on Monday? It's always best to hit that reset button as soon as possible so you don't let it get the best of you." -- Melissa Buczek Kelly, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., owner of MBK Nutrition & Wellness
4. Realize it's really no big deal.
"Don't view these occurrences as a major catastrophe. Doing so often results in thinking, 'OK, may as well eat even more junky stuff since this day is lost as far as healthy consumption goes.' Instead, I try to really enjoy the indulgence, make sure I'm sitting down and eating slowly, preferably with a cup of great coffee, really focus on what I'm eating, and then get back to my usual fruit, vegetables, legumes, and nuts." -- Mindy Haar, Ph.D., R.D., C.D.N, and a fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
5. Focus on water.
"I make sure to stay hydrated. That keeps me from mindlessly snacking, and I think of the extra bathroom trips as added exercise to my day. Most importantly, I remember that in the grand scheme of life, a few days or even weeks of overindulging are not going to make or break my health, weight, or overall wellbeing." -- Tory Tedrow R.D., C.N.S.C. for SugarChecked
6. Don't judge yourself.
"I return my attention to my body's signals and cues without judgement of the prior eating experience. I pay attention to what my body wants, but even if it isn't really hungry, I still don't skip a meal. I just eat something very light or have a green drink to get the nourishment without the extra calories and feelings of heaviness in the belly." -- Lori Montaigue, R.D.
7. Load your plate with plants.
"My tactic has been to go right back to eating a lot of plants, and I mean a lot. So for lunch, I have a massive salad with protein, avocado, and Italian-style tuna, along with two to three fruits a day, and more vegetables at dinner. I even start snacking on stuff like jicama with lime juice and chile salt. After a few days, I find that I crave fresh foods and my sugar cravings diminish." -- Abby Langer, R.D.
8. Check in with your body.
"I remember that it's normal and that my body knows what to do with extra nutrients. I also like to check in with the feeling of over-fullness to help remind myself in the future that I love my body, and eating past what I need doesn't feel good to me." -- Samantha Finkelstein, R.D., founder of Nerdy Girl Nutrition
9. Figure out the real issue at hand.
"If I overeat, there's usually a bigger problem: I'm stressed out and my schedule is crazy, which makes me find comfort in food. So, I turn to the gym. Not to 'balance' my overeating, but to re-center myself and manage my stress. Getting that under control helps me make more reasonable choices, whether they're food-related or not." -- Thomas Ngo, R.D.
10. Don't put yourself down.
"The most important thing I do after a day of binging to not trash talk myself. Negative, self-deprecating thoughts only keep you in an unhealthy eating cycle. The reality is that everyone blows it on the weekends!" -- Mary Gocke, R.D.N., C.D.N., and director of nutrition at Blum Center for Health
11. Pretend nothing happened.
"The next day, I act like nothing different happened. I don't wallow in sorrow or say, 'Oh, I shouldn't have had that,' or 'Oh, I feel so fat.' I know I have generally healthy eating habits, so I don't stress out." -- Shari Portnoy, M.P.H., R.D.
12. Go for flavorful water and a high-protein breakfast.
"I always tell myself and my clients to start at the point of choosing to indulge. Once you own up to your decision to enjoy the moment, so that treat turns into a one-and-done kind of event. But if I do I overeat, I make sure to start the day off with at least 16 ounces of water to which I'll add lemon juice, slices of ginger, or cucumber to help with inflammation and get my digestion back on track. Then, I focus on eating a high-protein breakfast of eggs with fruit or 2 percent Greek yogurt with chia seeds and hemp seeds to keeps those cravings at bay." -- Erinn Gregory, R.D.N
13. Get plenty of fiber.
"I boost my dietary fiber intake. Fiber is important for digestive health, maintaining a healthy weight and low cholesterol levels, preventing colon cancer, and supporting a thriving community of healthful gut bacteria. It can be as simple as rinsing beans and adding some dressing and veggies." -- Felicia D. Stoler, M.S, R.D., author of Living Skinny in Fat Genes
14. Don't withhold food.
"I don't skip breakfast! Doing so can start a cycle of over and under-eating. A protein- and fiber-packed breakfast will keep your stomach full and prevent overeating. A breakfast burrito filled with eggs, peppers, and spinach, a Greek yogurt parfait layered with vibrant berries, and oatmeal packed with fruits, nuts, and seeds are just a few ideas to get the day rolling." -- Ashvini Mashru, R.D., L.D.N., author of Small Steps to Slim
15. Understand the true meaning of a healthy lifestyle.
"Believe me, overindulging happens to all of us. I get back on track by reminding myself no one food or meal can make a person healthy or unhealthy. It's all about an overall healthy lifestyle, which has room for the times we overindulge." -- Shannon A. Garcia, M.D.S, R.D. of KISS in the Kitchen
16. And don't let it spiral into an actual unhealthy lifestyle.
"Don't wait until tomorrow to start over. When I've gone a little overboard, I pick up right away with a healthy next meal. My go-to is a two-egg omelet with sautéed veggies and a piece of toast. When you wait longer, you give yourself permission to get more off track, and the new 'start' date can easily turn into next week or next month." -- Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition
More from SELF: